Monday

26th Aug 2019

Slovakia takes a turn to the left

Slovakia has decided to turn the wheel from right to left, as the opposition Social Democrats emerged as a convincing winner of the country's Saturday (17 June) elections, the first ballot since EU membership in 2004.

The leftist party Smer (meaning "Direction") secured a third of the representation in the 150-seat Parliament and is likely to end the centre-right government of Mikulas Dzurinda, the longest-serving prime-minister in central Europe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Mr Fico plans to scrap the 19-percent flat tax and halt privatisation (Photo: European Commission)

Mr Dzurinda's SDKU party gathered 18 percent of votes, translated into 31 parliamentary seats, which is still a significant increase compared to the 2002 elections.

During his eight years in power, Mr Dzurinda took the 5.4 million people country from international isolation into the EU and NATO, carried out sweeping free-market reforms, secured record levels of foreign investment and turned Slovakia into one of Europe's fastest-growing economies.

Sacking reforms, building social welfare state

But despite these achievements, the voters turned to the leader of Smer Robert Fico.

Mr Fico has capitalized on reform fatigue and pledged to overturn many of the changes, saying they have benefited only the rich.

"There is a chance that Slovakia will strengthen solidarity and social justice.", Mr Fico said after the election night.

According to his programme, Mr Fico plans to scrap the 19-percent flat tax and fees for medical care and halt privatisation.

Meanwhile, economic analysts are sceptical about whether any government led by Mr Fico will be determined enough to bring Slovakia into the eurozone in 2009, as planned.

It also remains unclear what the stand of the Social Democrats will be on hot European issues, such as the fate of the European Constitution or further enlargement.

It appears, however, that leftist Smer is in favour of introducing labour market restrictions for future member states Romania and Bulgaria.

Horse-trading begins

But the Social Democrats failed to secure an outright majority and in order to govern they have to find allies among the five other parties entering high politics.

Mr Fico is expected to seek talks with the centre-right Christian Democrats and Ethnic Hungarians, the closest allies of Mr Dzurinda in the last two governments.

His other option is to team up with the centre-left HZDS party, headed by former autocratic prime minister Vladimir Meciar and the far-right National Party, although analysts see such a coalition as an unlikely scenario.

A German-style grand coalition between Mr Fico and Mr Dzurinda is also viewed as unlikely since the outgoing prime minister said he will not participate in the destruction of hard-won reforms.

Slovakia signals U-turn on tax

Slovakia has signalled for the first time it is eventually willing to enter into discussion about Brussels' desire to move into well-protected tax area, a move that has led to a political clash between the government and its opposition.

Orban praises von der Leyen after first face-to-face

The EU Commission president-elect said she had a "good talk" with Hungary's controversial premier. Orban returned the praise, saying said the former German defence minister "thinks with [a] central Europeans' head".

Von der Leyen aims to 'rebalance Europe'

The German EU Commission president-elect hopes to bridge divisions within the EU, as she meets with EU leaders setting up her team of commissioners.

Johnson's call for new Brexit deal hits EU 'no'

The UK will not nominate a new EU commissioner, the new British PM said in his first address to parliament, and insisted that the Irish backstop can be renegotiated - without giving any specifics on alternative solutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Western leaders disagree on Russia, Iran, and Brazil
  2. Belgium: Parties clash on Reynders as EU commissioner
  3. Spain heading for yet another general election
  4. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  5. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  6. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  7. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  8. EU considers new rules on facial recognition

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us